Viva Verdi 200 and AIDA

Verdi was born 200 years ago in a small farmhouse in the village of Roncole near Busseto, Italy. In 2013, the musical world celebrated his birth year by performing many of the Verdi standards and some of the less famous. Aida, one of the most famous operas of any composer, was performed by over twenty opera companies between his birth month, October, and the end of the year.


In 1869 Verdi was asked to write a hymn or ode for the celebrations surrounding the opening of the Suez Canal in Egypt, including the opening of a new opera house. He refused, but became interested in composing an opera after reading a scenario presented to him on an episode in Egyptian history.

After many months of correspondence and the introduction of a story with much local colour, Verdi agreed in June, 1870 to compose Aida. The world premiere took place in Cairo in December of 1871 at the almost new Cairo Opera House (Rigoletto was performed at the dedication of the opera house.).

Egyptologist Auguste Mariette created the story and Verdi selected Antonio Ghislanzoni to create the libretto. Verdi did not travel to Cairo for the premiere of the opera, but he was involved in all aspects of its production, and he oversaw the Italian premiere at Teatro alla Scala in Milan, 8 February 1872. The day after that premiere, Verdi said: "...this opera is certainly not my worst. Time will afterward give it its place."

Tim Cordell 20 February 2014